Monday, March 1, 2010

"Spirit Of Ireland" - Coming to a Valley near you?

"Flooded valleys key to huge power plan"

It's not often you see a newspaper headline with such amazing potential to induce panic. But Frank McDonald, the IT's environment editor has succeeded with today's unquestioning puff piece about "Spirit Of Ireland", a suspiciously named scheme to make Ireland an exporter of energy. The piece immediately grabs ones attention by implying this is government policy:

PLANS TO build a new electricity generating system, combining large-scale wind farms with huge hydro-power storage reservoirs in valleys on the west coast, are at an advanced stage, The Irish Times has learned.

“Spirit of Ireland”, billed as a national project for energy independence, has been under discussion for several months with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, as well as other agencies.

It would involve identifying up to five coastal valleys from counties Donegal to Cork, building dams on their seaward side and flooding them with sea water. These would provide a hydro-power back-up for the wind farms.

Obviously this story is of considerable interest to anyone who lives in a coastal valley and doesn't own scuba gear.....But it gets better:

Fifty potential sites along the west coast were identified, but he said many of these were not suitable for environmental or geological reasons. “We’ve now reduced the number of sites to 10, of which five will be studied in micro-detail,” he added.

The bowl-shaped valleys, created during the Ice Age, are located in areas with some of the best wind conditions in Ireland.

“Many are in areas of low population density, where land is of marginal or no use for farming,”the project’s website says.

Presumably the population density will drop to zero and agriculture will cease once the place is flooded? Given that people's homes and quite possibly entire communities are going to be destroyed the obvious question is "Which Valley?":

Dr O’Donnell said he was not in a position at this stage to reveal which were the most likely locations. “There’s an enormous amount of geological investigation and mapping involved, and we have a total of 18 teams of people working on the project.”

Not to mention such issues as Property Rights, Human Rights and the wisdom of holding vast quantities of seawater inland where it can get into the water table. Or the number of turbines required - one estimate is the entire western seaboard saturated with windmills to a depth of 10KM..... Or how this is supposed to happen in a country where you can't run a gas pipeline 10Km without having to deal with violent and illegal protests...

No comments: